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Workers in the United States strike as Omicron spreads

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Issue 2787
Starbucks strikers in Buffallo, New York, on the picket line outside a Starbucks

Starbucks strikers in Buffallo, New York (Pic: Twitter/ SBWorkersUnited)

Workers in the US are organising and striking for better Covid safety measures as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly. 

In Chicago, members of the Chicago Teachers Union are striking against being forced back to in-person teaching. 

An impressive 73 percent of union members voted to take action beginning last Wednesday. The mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot condemned the strikes as “illegal walkouts”. 

In Oakland, California, students and teachers came together to fight for better Covid restrictions. 

Students have threatened to strike unless their demands for more testing, masks and remote learning is implemented. 

And 12 schools shut in Oakland last week after teaching staff organised a walkout. 

Teacher Tamara Henry told ABC news, “It feels like a wildfire, and we’re trying to get out ahead of it. 

“We’re with students every day seeing what’s happening.”

Workers at Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, also struck over Covid safety leading the cafe to be shut for the day. 

The response from the White House to the strikes is to keep on with business as usual. 

US press secretary Jen Psaki said last week, “The president is working, and we are all working, to keep schools open.”

It’s clear Joe Biden and his administration won’t stand with workers in their fight for safer workplaces.

Del Monte strikers in Kenya say no to outsourcing

Over 6,000 workers at the Multi‑National Fruit Processing Del Monte Company in Kenya shut down operations for several days last week.

They are fighting courageously against appalling working conditions, union-busting and low pay. In particular they are resisting a change to a system of outsourcing that will mean a series of attacks on their rights.

During the strikes they held huge rallies that underlined their determination to keep fighting.

Strikers have vowed to continue their action until the company backs off from their plans and concedes on workers’ rights.

Even before the latest outsourcing moves, some workers say they have been in their posts for 20 years but have never been promoted from casual to permanent employees. Del Monte Kenya produces huge amounts of canned pineapple and pineapple juice, largely for export.

In 2020 Del Monte guards were accused of torture and other attacks, including with dogs, on nearby residents. The firm is of national importance and bosses will rely on support from the government. 

But workers have shown they have the power to resist.

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